Staging the Incarcerated Female Body: Records and Representations. Feminist Storytelling Network, NUI Galway. Thursday 19 March 2020 The Mick Lally Theatre, Druid Lane

Sponsored by: NUI Galway College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies Research Support Scheme, Drama and Theatre Studies, Gender ARC

Registration: Tickets (free) available on Eventbrite:

For queries, please email Dr Miriam Haughton: ‘’.

For information on upcoming or past FSN events, please check the website and social media:, @feministstories   


This symposium considers official records and cultural representations regarding women’s experience in modern Ireland and Northern Ireland. In recent decades, urgent histories led by scholars, artists and activists have shed new insights into the systemic practices of incarcerating ‘deviant’ or ‘Othered’ women, the threats faced by women due to the legal dominion that prescribes female embodiment, the trafficking and illegal adoption of children, and, the significance of centering these experiences as part of modern discourse and consciousness. Decades of historical enquiry, performance, poetry, literature, visual and fine art, documentary and recorded media capture both testimonial accounts and creative response. In this way, they act as another type of canon, one that explores the darker moments of Irish life, where women’s experience – physically, emotionally, sexually, culturally – was oppressed, threatened and violated, in explicit and insidious ways

Areas of enquiry will include, but are not limited to, institutionalisation in Magdalen Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, psychiatric institutions and prisons, and the threats faced by those engaging in sex work or termination of pregnancies. However, the interpretation of ‘incarceration’ will also extend to instances of limiting, censoring and suppressing histories, ideologies and experiences. Throughout the symposium, students will deliver intermittent performance art encounters that become embedded into the event, contributing to and reflecting the dialogue.


Registration, Mick Lally Theatre, Druid
Beginning of performance art encounters throughout the theatre

10.15: Opening Remarks
Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President, NUI Galway
Dr Miriam Haughton, Drama and Theatre Studies

10.45 – 11.30: The Tuam Oral Histories Project
Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley and Dr John Cunningham, History, NUI Galway

11.30 – 12.15: Women and Illegal Adoption
Conall Ó Fátharta, Journalist, Irish Examiner

12.15 – 1.00: Archiving institutionalisation: Legacies and Limitations
Dr Barry Houlihan, Archivist, NUI Galway

1.00 – 2.00: Light lunch provided
Performance encounters ongoing

2.00 – 2.45: Performing Women’s ‘Deviant’ Bodies
Dr Áine Phillips, Lecturer and Performance Artist (Burren College of Art)

2.45 – 3.15: Writing Women’s Internal Landscapes
Elaine Feeney, Poet and Novelist

3.15 – 4.00: Bodies of Evidence: Reading Mad Flesh
Dr Anna Harpin (Warwick)

4.00 – 4.30: Concluding remarks

Recommended Reading and Viewing

Lee Daniels (dir), Precious, Lionsgate, 2009

Caelainn Hogan, Republic of Shame, Penguin, 2019

Conall Ó Fátharta, ‘State’s Reaction is to Deny, Delay and to Buy Silence’, The Irish Examiner

Catherine Corless, ‘The Home’, Journal of the Old Tuam Society, 2012. (A copy of this can be emailed in advance to all registered attendees)

Elaine Feeney, ‘History Lesson’ in Rise, Salmon Poetry, 2017. Accessible online:

Kara Fox, ‘For decades, Ireland’s mother and baby homes were shrouded in secrecy.’ CNN, 9 September 2019.